2018 - Ready, Set, Go!
There is something special and energizing about finishing one season and starting another—this is especially true with regards to a new year. There seems to be organic momentum and fresh anticipation regardless of what we experienced in the last year. How can we pour gasoline on this to maximize the momentum? Here are four of the things I’ve seen produce the most fruit in my life.
1- Start with a clean slate.
During the busyness of life and ministry things get backed up, which causes our minds to get cloudy and our productivity to suffer. Our inbox gets cluttered; our to-do lists become a garbage can of old ideas that were never accomplished; our desks get cluttered; our whiteboards become a disordered jumble of unused ideas. We may even have some hard conversations we never got around to having or some sin issues we’ve let go unconfessed. Entering into the new year with all of these loose ends will cripple our momentum and productivity going into the new year.
Clean out your email inbox.
Clear your to-do list. If it hasn’t been done by now, it most likely won’t get done.
Clean off your desk and clear your whiteboard.
Have the hard conversation you’ve been putting off.
Confess any unconfessed sin still haunting you.
2- Set fresh goals.
Goals are what turn our dreams and visions into bite sized realities. We all know we need goals and most of us have tried to implement goals in the past. Despite what your experience has been with accomplishing or failing to accomplish goals in the past, I would encourage you to not let another year go by where you are just drifting. Let’s be intentional about setting fresh goals that put fire in our hearts and help us take practical next steps in what God has called us to. Here are a few areas that we tend to neglect in goal setting as pastors and leaders:
- When making relational goals, think about including a goal to have some friends that you hang out with on a regular basis that are able to speak into your life, as a friend rather than a follower. Leadership can be lonely, but we must fight to have real friends if we’re going to make it for the long haul.
- When you are setting family goals, think about including a goal to cultivate more intimacy with your wife. My wife and I have a weekly date night, and we take a quarterly overnight getaway that has proven extremely valuable especially in busy seasons. Too many marriages are failing because leaders spend all of their energy and mental space on their career, rather than their spouse.
- When it comes to spiritual goals, we normally set achievement goals such as reading more, praying more, and serving more. Let’s definitely do that, but let’s also include goals for rest, humility, and hearing from God. These are the three areas that are counter-cultural in our evangelical leadership world, but they are some of the most crucial to our long-term success in life and ministry.
3- Schedule your values.
If we are not intentional about scheduling what we value most, the immediate demands will often overtake the essential. This often leaves us feeling unproductive and drained (often damaging our personal walks with Jesus and our marriages). I have started the discipline of scheduling what I value most on my calendar and have seen incredible fruit. Here are some values that I put on my calendar before anything else:
- Time with God every day… not for sermon prep, but just to hang with Dad
- Sabbath weekly
- Date night weekly
- Prime hours of my work day for creating content (9am-12pm)
- Quarterly overnight getaway with my wife
- One extra intentional day with Jesus monthly- no phone… just a Bible and journal… This is the hardest thing on my calendar to keep, but when I keep it, it always bears much fruit.
- Write down what you value most (i.e. Jesus, wife, kids, ministry, health, rest, friendships, etc.).
- Set up your calendar for 2018 with those values on your calendar before you add anything else.
- What is currently on your calendar that you need to remove in order for your schedule to match your values?
- Schedule everything else in the time that’s left.
4- Reawaken First Love and remember your WHY.
With the rush of the Christmas season and the urgency of the new year, we often lose sight of our WHY. We get trapped in our WHAT and HOW, to the neglect of our WHY. Our love for Christ and people seems to fade as Christmas services and sermon series planning for the next year take over. We get tired, lose our passion, and just press on without the Fresh Wind that we once had. This doesn’t have to be the case! When we come back to our First Love and remember the reason we got into ministry in the first place, we begin to operate in overflow and start to have fun again. What would it look like if you launched into 2018 with fresh intimacy with God and a renewed focus on your WHY?
Block off a whole day sometime over Christmas break to turn off the phone and spend time with God.
Let Him remind you of how much He loves you and reflect on His faithfulness over the years.
Let Him refresh you and remind you WHY you’re in ministry (read some of your favorite passages of Scripture that originally called you into ministry).
Let Him kill your urge to achieve ministry success for significance, and renew your trust in the Gospel (reflect on your salvation and the reality of the Gospel in your life right now).
2018 is packed with potential. We can pour gasoline on the fire of organic momentum and anticipation the new year brings when we do the few small things listed above. I am praying that this year brings fresh intimacy with God, fresh intimacy with your spouse, and the most fruitful year of ministry to date for every single person that reads this. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to serve you or if there’s anything you would add to this list. I love you guys!